The so-called “Krugersdorp Killers” allegedly faked the death of one of the group’s members, Zak Valentine, in order to claim life insurance, the South Gauteng High Court heard on Wednesday…
Valentine, who is accused number one, was a member of “Electus Per Deus” (Chosen by God), a group charged with 11 counts of murder and various other crimes that occurred in the Krugersdorp area between 2012 and 2016.
Le Roux Steyn, who turned State witness, detailed how the group faked Valentine’s death in order to raise funds to support its ministry.
He was testifying on day two of the trial of his co-accused Cecilia Steyn, 37, Valentine, 33, and Marcel Steyn, 20.
In May Le Roux was sentenced to 35 years in jail, with 10 years suspended, on condition that he testifies.
Former teacher Marinda Steyn was also sentenced in May to 11 life sentences and 115 years’ imprisonment. The sentences will run concurrently.
On Wednesday Le Roux insisted that the plan to raise funds for the ministry through “the death of Zak Valentine” was strictly at Cecelia’s instruction, the alleged mastermind behind the “Electus Per Deus” enterprise.
“After lying low in 2013 because Cecilia thought we were being followed, we decided to become active again in 2015. However, we needed funds,” Le Roux explained.
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“We had to look after these people coming to our ministry in hopes of getting out of satanism –paying for their housing, food, etc. This costs money,” he said.
As a result, Cecilia allegedly decided that Valentine should fake his death so that the ministry could make a claim on his Discovery Life insurance, the court heard.
“Valentine was insured by Discovery Life as he was an employee there. He then added Cecilia Steyn as a beneficiary as per her instruction,”
“Valentine was insured by Discovery Life as he was an employee there. He then added Cecilia Steyn as a beneficiary as per her instruction,” Le Roux explained.
He alleged that Cecilia instructed him to “scout” for a person who was the same height and build as Valentine.
“We used a guy on the street (a street vendor) that Cecilia used to provide shelter for in her flat storeroom and we convinced him to take a trip with us to the Free State,” Le Roux said.
On the afternoon of December 16, 2015, Valentine, Marinda, Le Roux and a John Barnard left with Jarred Jackson, who was the vendor, in two cars, a BMW and a Mercedes-Benz.
Le Roux, who was travelling in the BMW with Jackson, explained how he killed him.
“I gave him juice with plenty of pain medication – anything to calm him, make him sleep. We (Cecilia and Le Roux) probably put 20 crushed pills into the juice, and I strangled him once I noticed he was drowsy,” Le Roux told the court.
He said the group then found a side road where they moved Jackson’s body from the BMW to the driver’s seat of the Mercedes-Benz. They poured paraffin on it and set it alight.
Marinda identified the body as Valentine when police discovered the burnt-out car.
“Myself and Cecilia made a fake ID for [Valentine]. Cecilia wanted [Valentine] to be able to find work so that he can sustain himself under the name Jacques de Villiers,”
When the group obtained all the necessary paperwork to prove Valentine was “deceased”, a claim was made to Discovery Life insurance and a new identity book in the name of Jacques de Villiers was procured for Valentine.
“Myself and Cecilia made a fake ID for [Valentine]. Cecilia wanted [Valentine] to be able to find work so that he can sustain himself under the name Jacques de Villiers,” Le Roux told the court.
Cecilia allegedly had Valentine hiding out at the Herborg Hotel, three blocks from her residence, in order to keep up the pretence that he was dead.
Up until his arrest on April 22, 2016, Valentine was in hiding and known as “Michael de Villiers”.
Le Roux’s father, who was present during Wednesday’s court proceedings, cried as his son gave evidence.
The court briefly adjourned.